Japan milks 'fair play' system in World Cup first

World Cup 2018 Japan vs Poland Preview Japan Dream Of Round Of 16 As They Face Eliminated Poland

Japanese coach Akira Nishino would be hoping for the best

Japan lost 1-0 to Poland on Thursday but survived to become the only Asian side to qualify for last 16 of the World Cup in Russian Federation - and the first team ever to progress thanks to FIFA's new disciplinary tie-breaker rule.

They were touted as the favourites to be knocked out of group H first, but all the predictions changed after the Samurai Blue's defeated a 10-man Colombia side 2-1 courtesy of a 3rd minute Shinji Kagawa goal and a 73rd-minute victor from Yuya Osako.

Knowing that they were poised to progress, Japan, seemingly having secured some kind of agreement with the Polish team, spent the final minutes of the game passing amongst themselves under absolutely no pressure at all from their opponents.

Japan and Senegal end the group stage even on points and goals, but Japan advance to the next round on fair play points.

Poland appeared uninterested in pushing forward too, apparently content with registering their sole win at Russian Federation 2018 but the ending to the game left a unusual taste in the mouth of its audience.

"My players were very loyal in listening to me and following my decision".

The jeers that rained down on Japan during their 1-0 defeat by Poland in Volgograd may suggest otherwise, but the Samurai Blue's unedifying decision to wind down the clock and forgo the push for an equaliser had "fair play" at its heart.

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We did not go for victory, but we just relied on the other match. The Belgians made nine changes from their previous match while the English switched eight players. They were booing in the stadium and I'm sure the players heard that.

The Eastern Europeans did indeed prove more combative than the Japanese, but Japan's goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima made a spectacular save that denied Kamil Grosicki's header right before it crossed the line in the first half.

Then, with nine minutes remaining, Tomoaki Makino - in an attempt to intercept another unsafe cross by Grosicki - could only send the ball towards his own goal but Kawashima reacted well to make the save.

Robert Lewandowski then had a chance to put Poland ahead 2-0 _ a result that would have allowed Senegal to advance _ in the 74th minute after a swift counterattack but his effort flew over the bar.

The Polish will do everything they can to make life hard for Japan, as Robert Lewandowski, the leading marksman in European qualification, attempts to score his first goal at Russian Federation 2018.

Japan will go on to face the victor of the Belgium v England match in the Round of 16. Senegal became the first team ever eliminated by a new tiebreaker - number of yellow cards.

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